Every single ice they make is exported abroad. “Not a single sport develops our muscular strength and bodies as well as kettle bell athletics,” reported Russian magazine Hercules in 1913.
Here is a short list of hardware the Russian kettle bell replaces: barbells, dumbbells, belts for weighted pull ups and dips, thick bars, lever bars, medicine balls, grip devices, and cardio equipment. Vinogradov & Luciano (1986) found a very high correlation between the results posted in a kettle bell lifting competition and a great range of dissimilar tests: strength, measured with the three power lifts and grip strength; strength endurance, measured with pull ups and parallel bar dips; general endurance, determined by a 1000-meter run; work capacity and balance, measured with special tests.
According to Voropayev (1997) who studied top Russian Greeks, 21.2% increased their body weight since taking up kettle belling and 21.2% (the exact same percentage, not a typo), mostly heavyweights, decreased it. Kettle bells forge doers' physiques along the lines of antique statues: broad shoulders with just a hint of pecs, back muscles standing out in bold relief, wiry arms, rugged forearms, a cut-up midsection, and strong legs without a hint of squatter's chafing.
Liberating and aggressive as medieval swordplay, kettle bell training is highly addictive. Soviet weightlifting legends such as Vlasic, Zhabotinskiy, and Alexas started their Olympic careers with old-fashioned kettle bells.
The Russian Special Forces personnel owe much of their wiry strength, explosive agility, and never-quitting stamina to kettle bells. Soldier, Be Strong!, the official Soviet armed forces strength training manual pronounced kettle bell drills to be “one of the most effective means of strength development” representing “a new era in the development of human strength-potential”.
The elite of the US military and law enforcement instantly recognized the power of the Russian kettle bell, ruggedly simple and deadly effective as an AK-47. Once the Russian kettle bell became a hit among those whose life depends on their strength and conditioning, it took off among hard people from all walks of life: martial artists, athletes, regular hard comrades.
And we are talking elite competition here; the range is even wider if you are training for yourself rather than for the gold. Dr. Krayevskiy, the father of the kettle bell sport, took up training at the age of forty-one and twenty years later he was said to look fresher and healthier than at forty.
A remarkably low number, especially if you consider that these are elite athletes who push their bodies over the edge. Many hard men with high mileage have overcome debilitating injuries with kettle bell training (get your doctor's approval).
Acrobat Valentin Dial fell and broke his back at seventeen. A Food is an old Russian measure of weight, which equals 16 kg, or roughly 35 lbs.
Most men will eventually progress to a 53-pounder, the standard issue size in the Russian military. “ Kettle bells are like weightlifting times ten,” stated Olympic Silver Medalist in Greco-Roman Wrestling Dennis Koslowski, D.C., ROC.
E-coating was developed originally for the automotive industry because it is economical and provides superior coverage, adhesion, and corrosion resistance. It coats any metal (aluminum, zinc, brass, steel) that conducts electricity.
Kettle bells are easy to store, relatively inexpensive, and provide an efficient way to work nearly every part of the body in a short period of time. They’re also great for supplementing movement rehabilitation work on a path toward injury recovery or performance improvement.
The finish on these kettle bells is extremely drippy with no seams or burrs anywhere on the handles or bodies, with a coating that feels like chalk to the touch. Rep Fitness doesn’t bundle shipping into the costs of their products, and their base pricing is very reasonable.
These kettle bells are a great value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado to save on shipping costs. They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing.
If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettle bells could be the right option for you. However, they don’t really stand out enough to differentiate them from the rest of the color-coded powder coat kettle bells I’ve tested.
There are better options in terms of grip and finish, and the non-standard colors they use for weights drive me nuts. Bottom line, don’t pay full price for Perform Better kettle bells.
My review criteria is primarily centered on kettle bells I can use at home and at work with minimal need for chalk. If you’re interested in diving deeper I’ve written a kettle bell buyer’s guide that answers every question I had when I first started.
It also goes into detail on the criteria I look for, but the short version is a clean finish, a durable coating, and a properly sized handle. Cast-iron kettle bells are widely available at many price points, which I consider to be a very good thing.
There are a couple of companies making steel competition-style kettle bells aimed at the home fitness market, which offer the benefit of consistently sized kettle bells without incurring the usual steel competition cost. I’ve developed several kettle bell workouts for the club, ranging in intensity from beginner to high-level intermediate.
All of my workouts are documented on their own page and I plan to add to the list as time goes on. If you prefer to follow along to instructor-led workouts, I also highly recommend the well-designed program put together by Kettle bell Kings via their new Living. Fit online platform.
The Living. Fit programs include workouts for all levels of kettle bell enthusiasts, from beginner to expert. They also have programs targeted for healthy eating and battle ropes for a more well-rounded approach to health and fitness.
According to Tim Ferris the parts are supposed to cost under $10, not counting the weight plates. First, it takes the guesswork out of deciding what size kettle bell to buy for two hand work.
I was able to experiment with different weights to find a starting point I was comfortable with, eventually settling on 20 kg (44lbs). If you don’t already have a background lifting weights or being active, or if you are out of shape, consider working with a certified kettle bell trainer to get instructed in proper technique.
Plumbing parts weren’t designed to sustain a dynamic load swinging in an arc. I’ll get into the details shortly, but I first want to comment on the excellent packaging they used to ship their kettle bells.
This is a far cry from other vendors like Rogue Fitness, who typically just throw the bell in a box with some cardboard shims and hope for the best ¯\_()_/¯ I took this kettle bell outside on a hot Texas summer day to use for an Afterburner workout from my list of Kettle bell Club workouts, and I was able to keep hold of it without resorting to chalk despite my hands sweating like crazy.
Textured grip, durable finish, and cleaner color bands This is an important point because the factories where kettle bells are made are dirty, dusty places.
There’s lots of dust flying around that accumulates on the surface of the bells while they sit patiently waiting for paint. Perhaps unsurprisingly, very few companies take the extra step to clean the bells before paint because it adds time and expense to the process.
At the time I published this article, Kettle bell Kings is likely the only vendor taking this extra step, which results in a very durable coating. Most of the cheap kettle bells for sale on Amazon and other discount vendors fall into this category, I’ve even reviewed a few of them for this article.
If you’re unfamiliar with Create, it’s an extremely durable thin-film ceramic coating developed primarily for use as a protective finish for firearms. Create is extremely resistant to abrasion, corrosion and chemicals, and looks pretty cool at the same time.
In recent years a little fitness equipment companies have started offering create as a coating option for barbells. The create coating will cost a little extra, but the added durability means that kettle bell will last practically forever.
Since they’re local to Austin I visited the Innit Academy Gym in person to buy a kettle bell to evaluate. It looks like it could take a decent amount of abuse from a careless shipper, but the lack of reinforcement straps around the box could be an issue if the kettle bell has to travel a long distance.
The finish on the Innit kettle bell is clean, although the textured coating is thick enough to potentially mask small imperfections. Aesthetically, there are spots on the kettle bell where I can see how the coating application ran down the handle and dried, similar to how spray paint drips when applied too thickly.
As for durability, although the coat is described as chip-resistant, in practice it isn’t very hard to chip. I thought maybe this was a fluke, so I intentionally banged the kettle bells together again with medium force and another chip flaked off.
The coating chipped several more times during the testing period through normal use, mainly from getting bumped against other kettle bells. It’s a small difference, but enough to force an adjustment of technique for exercises like the overhead snatch.
Innit Labs kettle bells are a good budget option, but not the most durable of the bunch. If you do buy these, take wonderful care of them because the finish is prone to chipping.
The finish on the kettle bell is very clean, and although the casting seams are slightly visible on the body due to how thin an e-coating is, they are not prevalent on the handle at all. The Matrix Elite Precision line of kettle bells have a reformulated e-coat intended to increase grip over a traditional e-coating.
The unique aspect of Matrix Precision Elite kettle bell is the redesigned handle. The increased height means the kettle bell will sit just a bit lower on the forearm rather than resting right on the wrist bones, which is more comfortable for some people.
The friction is alleviated with light chalk use though, which is a small trade off for the durability and comfort the Matrix Elite Precision kettle bell provides. I ordered a kettle bell from Rogue last year, and it arrived damaged due to flimsy packaging.
This year, I’m happy to say they’ve improved the packaging because I had no problem with my order this time around ? The finish on the Rogue kettle bell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it.
The powder coat on the Rogue kettle bells is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper. The handles of the Rogue kettle bells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands.
The price is good too, especially if you live close to Ohio and can take advantage of a lower shipping cost. They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing.
If you have large hands and prefer an aggressive grip, Rogue powder coat kettle bells could be the right option for you. CFF offers a full line of athletic equipment, including kettle bells.
The form-fitting foam is an extra level of protection that’s typically only used for shipping more costly competition steel kettle bells. The coating has a slightly aggressive texture, which works very well for maintaining grip without needing chalk.
The combination of finish and textured coating will hold a lot of chalk if needed. It’s clear to me a lot of thought went into the creation of the K2 and it shows in every aspect of the design and packaging.
I included Rep Fitness kettle bells in last year’s review, and they garnered four stars during testing. Not content with that, the folks at Rep Fitness have upped their game by improving on the issues I noted in the previous review.
The Rep Fitness kettle bells came well packed, with plenty of foam inserts and even bubble wrap on the 20 kg. Thankfully, I didn’t have to take him up on this but it’s nice to see this kind of focus on customer service.
The powder coating has a very smooth chalk-like texture that provides a decent amount of grip without the need for chalk. The coating is also really durable, these kettle bells have withstood several hard blows without chipping.
They offer an excellent value for the price, especially if you live close to Colorado and you can save on shipping. Fringe Sport is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in Austin Texas.
Since they’re local, I paid them a visit to pick up a few of their Prime Kettle bells to review. Every Prime Kettle bell comes packaged in a form-fitting cardboard box and wrapped with reinforcement straps.
The finish on the Prime Kettle bells is clean and the bottoms are ground completely flat. The powder coat kettle bell is evenly applied and provides a decent amount of grip.
The grip the is on par with the majority of powder coat kettle bells I’ve tested, providing a smooth yet “drippy” texture. When I first got them, I was surprised at how much larger the handle diameters were when compared to similarly sized kettle bells from other vendors.
I’m not a tall guy (5’8”) and many of the people I work with in my kettle bell club are even shorter than I am, both men and women. The handles do run fairly thick though, so these are a great option for people with large hands.
Fringe Sport runs frequent sales, so if you’re patient you could score a pretty good deal on these. American Barbell is a strength & conditioning equipment company based in San Diego California.
Their barbells have a solid reputation in the home gym community, and they’ve somewhat recently added kettle bells to their product lineup. American Barbell kettle bells have a very clean finish and a slightly textured coat.
The bottoms are ground flat and wider than most of the other options, making them a very stable base for exercises like renegade rows. The handle dimensions overall are on the thinner side of the spectrum, making these kettle bells very comfortable for use by people with smaller hands.
Price-wise, American Barbell powder coats are super-cheap, but that savings is offset by the cost of pricing. For starters, the Titan Fitness kettle bell shipped in a single cardboard box with no padding or reinforcement whatsoever.
The Titan kettle bell is the absolute worst I’ve seen so far in terms of how bad the finish was. I really don’t understand how a big-name fitness company could even think about putting their brand on a product like this.
After contacting Titan customer service about a replacement and being told I wouldn’t be able to get one for two months, I simply sent it back. It’s so bad it has the dubious honor of forcing me to create a ‘zero stars’ rating, because it’s completely unusable.
I’ve had much better luck with some of Titan’s other gear, but I wouldn’t recommend their kettle bells. The big draw is the price, I picked up a 35lb cast-iron kettle bell for $40 shipped, which is amazingly cheap.
Considering my experience with another kettle bell in this price range, I didn’t have very high expectations. The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint.
I tried using it without any chalk and found that the tackiness made it more difficult for me to do snatches and cleans. Aside from the bottom not being flat, the finish is good with no casting seams or burrs.
The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, although I no longer have it available to measure. On the other hand, if saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Yes4All is hard to beat.
I know this because they’ve started selling their own brand of Amazon Basics Kettle bells. The only difference between them is that the AmazonBasics kettle bell has no branding whatsoever, only the weight stamped on both sides.
Just don’t expect much for your money, since the Amazon Basics kettle bell is a cheaply made product. The bottom is not ground completely flat and the coating is just a glossy black paint.
Having said that, it’s still perfectly usable for swings, snatches, cleans, etc and I’d be hard-pressed to find a cheaper option for someone that doesn’t want to spend much on a kettle bell. The tackiness of the paint makes it more difficult to do snatches and cleans with this kettle bell, but that’s nothing a light dusting of chalk on the handle can’t fix.
Aside from the bottom not being flat, the finish is good with no casting seams or burrs. The handle diameter is on the larger side of the options tested, measurements will be added later.
If saving money is your primary concern and you’re willing to sacrifice some quality, the Amazon Basics kettle bell is a decent option. CAP introduced a new powder coat kettle bell into their product lineup sometime within the last couple of years, and I’m finally including it in the roundup.
The finish on the CAP kettle bell is good, although I can feel a few small flecks of excess metal on the handle when I run my hand over it. The powder coat on the CAP kettle bell is textured, with a feel of fine grit sandpaper.
The handles of the CAP powder coat kettle bells are among the thickest of the test group, making them more suitable for people with large hands. I was learning how to perform the kettle bell snatch at the time I owned these, and the burrs kept digging into my palms during the transitions.
I toughed it out as long as I could but eventually used a metal file to smooth down the handle and make the bell a little more usable. I painted it with Mausoleum to try and stem further rust damage, which is why the kettle bell is colored brown in pictures.
The enamel finish on the large bell was extremely smooth and hard to hold once I broke a sweat. I don’t recommend CAP enamel coated or plain “cast iron” kettle bells for your home gym.
In fact, I actively recommend you stay away from them entirely because you will inevitably rue the day you purchased them. The recognition is reflected in the price because DragonDoorkettlebells are the most expensive option included in this review.
They don’t look great, but the coat on all of them is in okay shape considering they were stored year-round in a garage subject to three years of humid central Texas summers. The ROC kettle bells all have prevalent seams left over from the casting process on the handles.
These seams often pinched the skin of my palms, indicating a poor finishing and grinding process. The DragonDoorkettlebells have one of the lowest quality finishes of all the kettle bells tested, which is notable because the cost difference DragonDoor and every other brand is huge.
That extra money is clearly not being invested back into quality control at DragonDoor. I reached out to customer service again to tell them about my experience and asked if my ROC kettle bells are representative of the quality of newly madeDragonDoorkettlebells.
Without knowing exactly what your current kettle bells look/feel like, I can tell you that things such as seams could indeed have been a problem exclusive to a batch or perhaps they were kettelbells that made it past inspection.” In fact, several of the companies offer no guarantee whatsoever and will not accept a return at all unless your purchase is defective.
I’m willing to give DragonDoor the benefit of the doubt and assume their newer kettle bells have a higher quality finish than what I currently own. The best things DragonDoor ROC kettle bells offer is a 1-year satisfaction guarantee and a durable coating.
However, given the quality of the competition these factors aren’t enough to offset their substantially higher cost. Whatever it is, the coat provides just enough grip with low friction to allow for high rep work without needing chalk.
The burrs only exist on the smaller kettle bells that I don’t use as much, which might be why they haven’t been an issue for me. One minor nit to pick is with the quality of the paint job on the faces of the kettle bells.
This is a purely cosmetic issue that doesn’t take away from the usability of the kettle bells at all, but it does detract from the overall perception of quality. In case you didn’t know, prior to the pandemic pretty much every brand of kettle bells was manufactured in China.
Then coronavirus hit, people were stuck at home, and supply chains out of China were disrupted. This was the perfect storm for a massive run on fitness equipment, and several months later most companies are still having trouble keeping products in stock.
The finish on the Rogue kettle bell is slightly on the rough side, which isn’t a bad thing because it provides some texture for improved grip. The handle of the Rogue E-Coat kettle bell is probably the thickest of the test group so far, making them more suitable for people with large hands.
To be honest, I was excited to review this kettle bell since it’s the first one I’ve owned that is made in the USA. They are a pretty good deal if you live close to Ohio, otherwise the cost of shipping makes them much less appealing.
USA-Iron is a brand-new player in the kettle bell space, a scrappy upstart company forged in the crucible of the COVID-19 pandemic (see what I did there? As the name implies, USA-Iron is an entirely U.S.-based operation and is among the first few companies to manufacture their own line of kettle bells in the United States.
In case you’ve been asleep for most of 2020, prepare to be rudely awakened…prior to COVID-19 most (if not all) kettle bells were manufactured in China. Then the ‘RNA hit, people were stuck at home, and supply chains out of China were severely disrupted.
This was the perfect storm for a massive run on fitness equipment, and several months later most companies are still having trouble keeping kettle bells in stock. USA-Iron has stepped into the breach producing high quality kettle bells to make sure we can keep on swinging, and I’m very glad they did.
The powder coat finish on USA-Iron kettle bell feels very good in my hand during swings and snatches, with a slightly rough texture. I was told by the company owner that the powder coat paint formulation was specifically chosen to provide some texture for improved grip, and that choice is evident during use.
USA-Iron is one of the few companies I’m aware of that adds a separate wash step to the manufacturing process to clean dust off the kettle bell before the powder coat is applied. This is an important step because the factories where kettle bells are made are dirty, dusty places.
Lots of that dust settles on the surface of the bells while they sit patiently waiting for paint. The end result is a very durable finish with a textured coating that will hold plenty of chalk if needed.
I don’t knock them for this though, since the kettle bells are high quality and some people will really like the thicker handle size. However, people with smaller hands may find the thicker handle size more difficult to hold during longer workout sessions.
If that weren’t reason enough to support them, I like that the company is small and open to feedback, and the people there are very committed to producing a high quality product. The handle dimensions are on the larger end of the spectrum, so if you have small or medium hands you may want to look at other options.